Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Jonathan Edwards' resolutions

Ran across these again recently. I last saw them some 20 years ago. I find them completely and utterly obnoxious. There are 70 of them. Here are numbers one through ten. I don't think I could stand to be long in the company of Mr. Edwards, if his resolutions are any indication of his personality. I'd get too exhausted (I mean, he's dead, of course, so that's not exactly going to happen.) What is your reaction? Is it generally more positive or more negative?

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God' s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.
2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new contrivance and invention to promote the aforementioned things.
3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.
4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.
5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God. July 30.
9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.


Vaughan said...

Hi, I followed your link back from Byron's blog, as that wouldn't really be the place to do this.

Of course the resolutions are positive. They are a positive response to the saving grace that Edwards had received. I fail to see any obnoxiousness about them, but joy.

How exactly do you see them as obnoxious?

Benjamin Ady said...

smile. Vaughan. Thankyou for asking. How exactly do I see them as obnoxious?

Well, the overall tenor of them is so enormously ... holy, in the very worst sense. I mean ... let me use a metaphor. It's great and wonderful, for instance, to have operating theatres have an almost insanely high level of striving towards being germ free. I mean everything is glistening stainless steal, it's all perfectly clean, sanitized, even the temperature is lowered to inhibit growth of nasty little creatures which could cause infection. And that's a good thing.

But my god, would you want to live in a freaking operating theatre? I mean, do you maintain your house, your car, etc. etc. at the same level? No, of course not. I mean apart from a relatively few really obsessive people out there, we know that we have to relax that standard a bit in order to enjoy our life. You see what I mean?

Mr. Edwards' resolutions strike me as trying to live in an operating theatre. It's obsessive. If I made all those resolutions, I would *never* ever be able to relax and enjoy myself and others. Just reading them exhausts me. This is what I mean when I say I find them obnoxious.

25 and 26 are paricularly nasty, as they promote a certain shutting of the mind against all realities which may not line up with one constructed reality.

34 would just lead to unbearable boredom, if carried out altogether.

45 is unbelievably toxic, and mostly impossible, and certainly not ... to use a distasteful term, Biblical.

58 requires him to be remarkably un Christlike, at least sometimes.